Monday, March 29, 2010

In Death Challenge Review: Fantasy in Death

Fantasy in Death
J. D. Robb
Futuristic Suspense/Earth 2060
In Death series/Book 30 (plus 7 novellas)
Putnam/February 2010
Library book

From the inside cover ~

Bart Minnock, founder of the computer-gaming giant U-Play, enters his private room, and eagerly can't wait to lose himself in an imaginary world—to play the role of a sword-wielding warrior king—in his company’s latest top-secret project, Fantastical.

The next morning, he is found in the same locked room, in a pool of blood, his head separated from his body. It is the most puzzling case Eve Dallas has ever faced, and it is not a game...

She is having as much trouble figuring out how Bart Minnock was murdered as who did the murdering. The victim's girlfriend seems sincerely grief-stricken, and his quirky-but-brilliant partners at U-Play appear equally shocked. No one seemed to have a problem with the enthusiastic, high-spirited millionaire. Of course, success can attract jealousy, and gaming, like any business, has its fierce rivalries and dirty tricks—as Eve's husband, Roarke, one of U-Play's competitors, knows well. But Minnock was not naive, and quite capable of fighting back in the real world as well as the virtual one.

Eve and her team are about to enter the next level of police work, in a world where fantasy is the ultimate seduction-and the price of defeat is death.

I am completely caught up with the series. Yeah! It only took a year and a half and most of that was listening to audio books. This time around I read the book and I have to say, I missed the voices. While I still hear the different accents and nuances in my head as I read, of course it's not anywhere as clear as listening to the audio books.

Okay, this is a weird case, even for Dallas. A decapitated victim, alone in a secured holo room. Dallas and Peabody have to call in the EDD (Electronic Detective Division) since they will figure heavily in this investigation. And Roarke has a connection to the victim, no surprise there. I do often wonder how he gets any of his own work done managing his multi-billion dollar empire when he spends so much time helping Eve.

I liked the scenario, yeah it's gross but you gotta say, it's different. As I went along reading something felt... off. For some reason I didn't get that click that I usually do when I get into an In Death book. Like I wasn't quite fully into the world. Could it be because it wasn't an audio book? IDK, but whatever reason, I liked the book but I didn't love it.

This time around we didn't get as much Eve/Roarke time. At least it didn't seem like it. Which was okay with me. I was intrigued by the holo game and how Dallas and Peabody would figure out the who/why of the murder. There was also the secondary story line of Nadine's book release party. She wrote a book about what happened in Origin in Death. It was one of Dallas' cases and right up there with this one in the land of bizarre. Eve and Nadine's relationship has become more than a working friendship. They have both gotten closer and have learned to trust each other with both work issues and personal issues. Another person that Eve has learned to open up to.

As the plot progresses we get more information on the fascinating gamer world of the future. Peabody and McNab head to East Washington for a gamer convention. Lots of similarities to the current cons; games to test, celebrities to meet, cool toys to buy. I liked seeing Peabody and McNab together, they are such a cute couple. Peabody with all of her body insecurities and McNab loving her just the way she is. Lucky girl, our Peabody!

My favorite part of Fantasy in Death was Dallas and Peabody. I know when people mention the series it's Eve and Roarke's relationship that is most often mentioned but I like how Dallas and Peabody's relationship is evolving and changing right along with Eve and Roarke's. I've noticed that when I think of Roarke and the Lieutenant I call her Eve but when I think about Peabody and the Lieutenant I call her Dallas. I guess it's my little way of separating Lt. Eve Dallas's two lives.

In the beginning when Dallas tagged Peabody to be her assistant, Peabody was in awe of Lt. Eve Dallas. She was a bundle of nerves and very unsure of herself when it came to working a crime scene. She was also a little afraid of Dallas. Afraid of disappointing her and not living up to Dallas' expectations. Fast forward to their current relationship and it goes something like this. ~

[Dallas]"Who's on this one?"

[Peabody]"I put Carmichael, Foster, Callendar on this one. It's supposed to storm tonight. Do you think it's going to storm?"

"How do I know? Do I look like a forecaster?"

"I've got these great shoes to wear to Nadine's party, but if it rains and we get stuck getting a cab or have to walk to the subway, they'll get screwed." Peabody searched the sky for answers. "If it storms I need to wear those pretty mag boots, but they're not new. Plus the shoes are so totally uptown."

"Peabody? Your footwear is of absolutely no interest to me, and at the moment the source of mild annoyance."

"Since it's only mild, let me continue. I sprang for a new outfit, too. It seemed like a good excuses for one. Nadine's book, fancy deal. And the Icove case was ours. I'm in the book and all that. I want to look complete. What are you wearing?"

"I don't know. I don't care."

"You have to." To bring the point home, Peabody stabbed Eve's arm with her finger. "You're like the star of the book."

"I am not the star of the book." The idea was horrifying. "The case is the star of the book."

"Who was in charge of the case?"

"I'm going to show you my current footwear, Peabody, up close when my boot connects with you nose."

"It's usually my ass, so that's a nice change." pages 238-239

I started laughing when she continued since it was only causing mild annoyance for Dallas. If this had been back at the beginning of their relationship, Peabody wouldn't have mentioned her shoes let alone continued talking when Dallas told her to shut it. I love the way they tease each other and are there for each other. They make for a very balanced partnership.

The wrap up of the case was dramatic and I thought done well. Dallas does a good job putting all the pieces together with the help of the EDD team and her expert consultant, civilian. The villain wasn't a surprise to me but I did find the how of the murder interesting. Robb adds another solid entry to the enduring In Death series.

Rating: B+

Sunday, March 28, 2010

ARC Review: Naked Edge

Naked Edge
Pamela Clare
Romantic Suspense
I-Team series/Book 4
Berkley/March 2010
ARC won from DA

From the author's website ~

What do you do when desire drives you to the very brink?

The day Navajo journalist Katherine James met Gabriel Rossiter, the earth literally moved beneath her feet. Nearly killed in a rock slide while hiking, she found her life in the tall park ranger's hands. Although she can't forget him she thinks she'll never see him again. She is crushed when she recognizes her rescuer among the law enforcement officers raiding a sweat lodge ceremony one night, throwing her and her friends off Mesa Butte, land they consider sacred.

Gabe long ago swore he would never again lose himself to a woman not even one with long dark hair and big eyes that seem to see right through him. But from the moment he first sees Kat, the attraction he feels is undeniable. Appalled by what he has been ordered to do, he's determined to get to the bottom of recent events at Mesa Butte and to keep Kat safe.

But asking questions can be dangerous almost as dangerous as risking one's heart. And soon Kat and Gabe's passion for the truth and each other makes them targets for those who would do anything, even kill, to keep Native Americans off their sacred land.

First off I want to say that I've enjoyed the previous books in Ms. Clare's I-Team series and was looking forward to Kat's story. We knew just the basics about her from previous books but that was enough to snare my interest. Unfortunately, my interest in Kat slowly dissipated as Naked Edge progressed. And Gabe Rossiter, well, lets just say I had some issues with him to. But I'll get into those later.

The story starts out with Kat heading north to do some hiking. She heads to Eldorado Canyon State Park where hero Gabe Rossiter works as a ranger. After Kat's close brush with death and Gabe's rescuing her they both go their separate ways. Kat back to Denver and her job as an environmental investigative report with the prestigious I-Team and Gabe with his ranger duties.

Move forward three months later and Kat is at Mesa Butte, participating in a Navajo ceremony when it's violently broken up by the local police. Gabe is called in because the area is part of the Mountain Parks jurisdiction. What he finds are some women and an old man not bothering anyone but being treated like criminals. I liked the Native American aspects of the story. I thought Clare worked them well into the plot and made them an interesting part of Kat's heritage.

Gabe is stunned to see Kat again. He hasn't forgotten her from when he rescued her from the rock slide. But Gabe is not a one woman man and for Kat, that's all she wants. The dynamics of Kat and Gabe's relationship were polar opposites when it came to their sexual needs. Gabe wants to fuck. Period. In fact, I got to thinking that was his favorite word since he used it so much. Kat was a 26 year old virgin with very little experience with any type of physical intimacy. I liked the fact that she stayed true to her beliefs. She was strongly attracted to Gabe but let him know that she was a virgin and planned to stay that way. Talk about being shocked! That part I thought was funny. Gabe couldn't believe gorgeous Kat James was a virgin. For a guy as experienced as Gabe, Kat was out of his realm of experience. :)

Gabe's past history with woman is front and center in his present views of women. It's not that he is disrespectful towards them, it's just that he only wants no strings sex from them. The problem I had with Gabe's outlook is that he was a smart man but couldn't see that not everyone woman was destined to treat him like crap. Kat was so different from Gabe's previous lover that I had a hard time buying into his trust issues with her (Kat). Once he got to know Kat, there is no way he could have expected her to treat him with anything other than honesty. I think it would have been easier from me to believe that his attitude about sex came from being self-centered rather than having trust issues.

Kat started out fine but slowly got on my nerves. Kat is this young woman with a very important, stressful job that most journalist would kill for. It wasn't that I had a hard time believing in her writing skills or her intelligence but her ability to deal with stressful situations became hard to believe. To put it bluntly, she turned into a cry baby. Seriously, she just seem to cry all the time. At one point, I thought "what is she, pregnant?", then I remember she was a virgin. And her need to be rescued, repeatedly. It just go to be too much.

The suspense aspect of the plot was engaging. It did run fairly smoothly until near the end. Then I pretty much had to suspend all disbelief to take in the dramatic cliff-hanger of an ending. Up until that point, I thought the development of the mystery of Mesa Butte fairly well done. I do think some of my favorite scenes were at the newspaper. Seeing the workings of a big city newspaper, that's where Clare shows her stuff. She lends her experience as a journalist to the story and gives the reader the feel that they are right there in the newsroom with the I-Team.

So, not my favorite story in the series but there were certain parts that I did enjoy. Most of the reviews I've read for Naked Edge have been very positive, so I'm chalking this one up to personal preference and that it just didn't live up to my expectations. I did take a peak at the excerpt for the next book in the series. If the excerpt is any indication, it looks to be a good one. Even with the little bump in the road that was Naked Edge, I still like Clare's writing and will continue with this series.

Rating: C+

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Review: My Soul to Save

My Soul to Save
Rachel Vincent
Fantasy/Young Adult
Soul Screamers/Book 2
Harlequin Teen/January 2010
Library book

Spoilers for Book 1

From the back cover ~

“If she were going to die, I’d already be screaming. I’m a banshee. That’s what we do.”

When Kaylee Cavanaugh screams, someone dies.

So when teen pop star Eden croaks onstage and Kaylee doesn't wail, she knows something is dead wrong. She can't cry for someone who has no soul.

The last thing Kaylee needs right now is to be skipping school, breaking her dad's ironclad curfew and putting her too-hot-to-be-real boyfriend's loyalty to the test. But starry-eyed teens are trading their souls: a flickering lifetime of fame and fortune in exchange for eternity in the Netherworld - a consequence they cant' possibly understand.

Kaylee can't let that happen, even if trying to save their souls means putting her own at risk...

Book 2 of Rachel Vincent's Soul Screamers series picks up where book 1 left off. Kaylee and Nash are dating. Kaylee is now living with her father who has moved back to the United States from Ireland. Before Kaylee's father moved back to Texas, Kaylee was living with her aunt, uncle and cousin. Since her aunt's death and the events leading up to it, Kaylee's father is now back in her life in a big way. She's happy about it but they are both new at this father/daughter thing. He's overprotective of Kaylee but he's also a bean sidhe, so he knows the darker side of what's out there. I liked how he was portrayed. He loves Kaylee but he's also stumbling around when it comes to how to treat his nearly grown up daughter, she's 16. It's a learning process for him that he doesn't always score high on but the love is definitely there.

Vincent does a good job of moving the story arc forward, introducing new creatures and giving the reader a greater understanding of the Netherworld. We do get to see Kaylee and Nash's relationship progress at a believable rate. Nash made it clear he wanted to sleep with Kaylee, Kaylee isn't completely sure. She wants to but...

I never felt Nash would push her into it. And they do have a bunch of other things and people, to interfere with any alone time they might get. Both Kaylee and Nash have parents that are present and involved in their lives. These are parents that are trying their best to raise their kids in the most normal of ways, knowing the bizarre other world that is part of their lives.

Kaylee and Nash are a typical high school couple in many ways but they are also a very unique couple because of what they each are - bean sidhe. They compliment each other with Kaylee letting loose her ear piercing wail and Nash using his soothing voice to help her not go crazy when the urge to wail comes over her. I liked the way Vincent shows them as being typical. They both have school and homework. Kaylee has a job, Nash has football practice. And through all of this they still have their duties as bean sidhes.

The main focus of the story is the soul stealing of teens that's going on. Specifically Addison Page. She is a singer and TV star. She's also Tod's ex-girlfriend. Tod being Nash's older, very dead brother. But Tod's still around because he's a reaper. He works at a local hospital, taking the souls of the recently departed. Tod may be dead but he's still very much a part of Nash's, and Kaylee's, lives. He's the one that gets them into the concert where Addison is the opening act for the singing star Eden. Kaylee, Nash and Tod find out what has been going on with the selling of souls after Eden drops dead on stage. Here's where we see some conflict between Kaylee and Nash. Kaylee feels she must help Addison but Nash doesn't think it's worth risking their lives for what he considers a spoiled pop princess. Kaylee stays firm in her belief and Nash goes along to protect Kaylee.

There is a vulnerable side of Kaylee that I enjoyed seeing. She's a very strong-willed, young woman. She's brave and maybe even a bit reckless when it comes to her bean sidhe life except she also has insecurities concerning Nash. She very attracted to him and knows he's attracted to her, yet she wonders about that attraction. If he's attracted to her because she's a bean sidhe or because she's another "conquest" for Nash, the popular football star. Those insecurities, for me, made her more authentic as a female and a teenager.

This time around we get more of the Netherworld. The way Vincent describes it I found fascinating and eerie. It makes sense that the higher concentration of hellions and such would be found corresponding with places of high human traffic. I found myself worried for Kaylee, Nash and oddly, even Tod when they were in the Netherworld. I have no idea why I was worried about Tod since he is dead. Just got caught up in the story. :)

Tod is an interesting character in that we get to see him interact with Nash and Kaylee as if he's just another young adult. Sometimes I would forget that he was a reaper and as dangerous as a reaper should be. There were times when Vincent would remind us of that very fact. After reading book 1, I was curious about Tod. Now, after getting to know more about him, I'm still curious. A good thing, right?

The ending - Wow. I wasn't sure what to expect. How everything could possibly work out, with a good outcome. Vincent played it well, giving the reader a resolution to the soul stealing while still reminding us that this isn't fun and games but life and death. I can't wait to read the next installment in the series, My Soul to Keep, release date June 1.

Rating: A-

Review: My Soul to Take/Book 1

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Eat, Pray, Love Movie

After seeing the movie trailer, I want to read the book. Anyone read the book? I know it was real popular, might still be on the NY Times list. I actually have it around here somewhere...

The trailer looks really good. Some might say it's a chick flick but I think it's more. Similar to Under the Tuscan Sun, which I really liked and yeah that's no doubt considered a chick flick too. Even though the main character is female, I still think there are things that a man could relate to. Plus guys still think Julia Roberts is hot right?

Much of what she said resonated with me. I couldn't take off for a year but there are definitely times when I'd like to take a road trip and just focus on me, if only for a few days. I think I will take off to the movies this summer and see this. Maybe even drag dh along. :)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Review: Tapestry

Karen Ranney
Historical Romance/1760's
Zebra Books/May 1995
Sent to me by Lori :)

From the back cover ~


For Lady Laura Blake, there is only on man in the world: Alex, the Earl of Cardiff. Yet ever since he was wounded in battle, Alex has locked himself away in his great stone castle at Heddon Hall. Believing himself to be less than a man, he conceals his ravaged face behind a leather mask... and hides his scarred soul beneath an icy aloofness.

A mere child when he went off to war, Laura has blossomed into a beautiful young woman Alex scarcely recognizes. The compassion and desire he sees shining out of her eyes tempts him to ease his pain in her sweet, sensual embrace. But as need flames into uncontrollable passion, an evil fate conspires against them both, weaving a web of treachery and betrayal that could bring heartbreak or happiness to those who dare to love...

First I have to give a big thanks to Lori who sent me her copy of Tapestry after she reviewed it on I Just Finished Reading. She was such a sweetheart and offered to send me her copy. I took her up on the offer and was pleasantly surprised by this older historical romance's take on the beauty and the beast theme.

The story begins with Laura, the beauty, eager to act on her plan to get inside the beast's lair, certain she can persuade him to venture out among the living. Alex, the beast, is there proving the rumors of his injuries true. He wears all black, donning a mask to cover his disfigurement. Laura is not put off by his visage, only more determined to break through the walls he has put up since returning from war. Alex, is intrigued by Laura, though he does not recognize her as the childhood friend and neighbor he left behind. She has grown into a woman, with a woman's love for a man.

In Tapestry there is the basics of the beauty and the beast story. Alex was cursed by war and death, becoming a man to be feared and pitied. Laura is the light, there to bring him back from the darkness that he has fallen into. I enjoyed the way Ranney developed Laura and Alex's new relationship, making Laura the stronger of the two. It's Laura that brings Alex out of hiding and Laura that forces the issue of their physical attraction. Alex tries to hold back out of fear of her reaction to his scars but she pushes him, showing him that they do not offend her. Once they give in, look out, Alex can't get enough of Laura. He's making up for lost time. :)

Alex has lived through some horrible things in his twenty-eight years. He not only suffered terrible wounds but came into his title of earl through the deaths of his father and older brother. I got why he wanted to be left alone in his tower - people treated him like he was a monster. Who wouldn't want to hide away from the world? Even after he begins to spend time with Laura he still has this sadness about him. Moments of happiness are there but he still can't seem to allow himself to be completely happy. It's as if he knows something bad is going to happen. Self prophesy?

Laura, for her part, maintains her positive nature. She encourages Alex to become part of the world again, not only by loving him but also by challenging him to engage in the running of his estates. What she doesn't do is give up on him. And he can be a trial to deal with. If Alex were a woman you could almost say he blossoms. LOL He really does come out of hiding and begins to really live again. But of course it's too easy to end the story this way, and far too short, so Alex must go away to war and possibly never come back.

Here's where the story shows it's age a bit. It gets that old school feel to it with one tragedy after another coming at Laura. She sinks into depression and despair. She is so far removed from the Laura that we first meet who rescued Alex. Now she needs some rescuing but first... she must sink just a little farther.

This is where the story slowed down. It's like I knew what had to happen, so lets just get to it already! So, my impatience got to me a little. But even with the slow points I still enjoyed this lovely gem of a romance. Laura and Alex made for an interesting love story and I found I liked the way they played off each other. I'll certainly be reading more of Ms. Ranney's romances.

Rating: B+

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Review: The Secret Year

The Secret Year
Young Adult Contemporary
Viking/January 2010
Library book

From the author's website ~

Seventeen-year-old Colt has been sneaking out at night to meet Julia, a girl from an upper-class neighborhood unlike his own. They’ve never told anyone else about their relationship: not their family or friends, and especially not Julia’s boyfriend. When Julia dies suddenly, Colt tries to cope with her death while pretending that he never even knew her. He discovers a journal Julia left behind. But Colt is not prepared for the truths he discovers about their intense relationship, nor to pay the price for the secrets he’s kept.

This little book really surprised me, in a good way. The premise is in the style of West Side story but the twist is that the heroine is dead when the book begins. We get to know her through her own words, written in her journal, and through the memories of the hero, Colt. We get to see how he deals with her death in secret, just like their relationship. For a teen to have to lose someone they care about is hard but to have to grieve in quiet solitude must be even harder, causing pain and confusion.

I think part of the reason I liked this book so much and was able to connect with it so quickly was because of Colt. It's told in his POV. I liked his dark, dry humor and found myself laughing at some of the strangest times. He tells it like it is, and doesn't go easy on himself. What we get is his guilt over Julia's death and his questions about what role he played in her death. Colt doesn't do a whole lot of "why me" which was refreshing. He knew where he was from, the flats as it's called. The blue collar neighborhood where his mother works as a waitress and his father drinks, a lot. And Julia was a kid from Black Mountain Road where the mansions and money are. Completely different worlds.

Colt and Julia meet along the river bank. They strike up a peculiar relationship, meeting in secret, mostly by the river. Julia is afraid of being caught but she also gets a secret thrill from "almost" being caught. Colt is a laid back guy and seems to get swept up in her. Completely overpowered by her personality is a good way to describe what happens to him. She's so different than what he's encountered in his very limited experience with the opposite sex.

The aftermath of Julia's death leaves Colt at odds with his group of friends. He needs to talk to someone about Julia and their relationship but he can't. Then her journal falls into his hands and he gets to find out what she thought of their relationship. He gets to relive their year together through her eyes. While he is doing that he is also caught up in the middle of the rivalry of the kids from the flats and the kids from Black Mountain. Colt has some issues with Austin Chadwick, one of the Black Mountain guys. Austin was Julia's boyfriend and Colt can't stand him. The dissension between the two groups emphasizes how the high school society would have viewed Julia and Colt's relationship.

The one real problem I had with the story was the teen angst. Too heavy for my liking but remember, I'm not a teen so of course this is totally from my older perspective. Would I have thought the same when I was a teen? Maybe. I don't think it would have irritated me as much. I do think Hubbard did a good job with the characterizations. Some even reminded me of people I knew when I went to high school. lol

The Secret Year is an interesting and different story. I think by having it begin with Julia already dead, the focus could be on Colt. Had she still been alive, I have a feeling her presence would have overpowered his and we would have missed out on the unique perspective of the teen male. The Secret Year, Hubbard's debut novel, is a quick read at just under 200 page, but it packs a solid punch. Dealing with forbidden love, social class conflicts, secrets and loyalty.

Rating: B+

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

TBR Challenge Review: Have You Seen Her?

Have You Seen Her?
Karen Rose
Romantic Suspense
Warner Books/February 2004

From the back cover ~


One by one, the girls disappear from their beds at night. Each one is pretty, with long, dark hair. And each one is found brutally murdered.


Special Agent Steven Thatcher has sworn to find the serial killer preying on this small town. As the investigation pulls him one way, his family pulls him in another. A widower haunted by loss, he now worries about his son Brad slipping away. But there's a bright light in his life; his son's teacher, Jenna Marshall, has reached out to help. She's beautiful, kind, and considerate— and slowly, tentatively, she and Steven are starting to fall in love. But both have been hurt before— badly. And as the two try to find the courage to bare their souls, a murderer who has slain many looks for the real treasure he craves. He sets his traps. And waits. For Jenna . . .

This month the suggested themes were historical romance, mystery or fiction. I decide to deviate a little and chose a romantic suspense. So there is that mystery element to the plot plus some romance. The murderer in this case isn't obvious and it's up to Agent Thatcher and his team to figure out who is committing the brutal murders.

The second book in Karen Rose's loosely connected series shows this author hasn't fallen into the sophomore slump. She continues in Have You Seen Her? with Special Agent Steven Thatcher who we met in the first book, Don't Tell. Agent Thatcher is given the lead investigator spot on what's looking to be a serial murderer. A very brutal murderer. The girls are young, pretty and cheerleaders. They leave their homes willingly in the middle of the night since no signs of a struggle are found. What is found are their mutilated bodies.

Agent Thatcher and his family are still feeling the after affects from when his youngest son was kidnapped six months ago. His youngest son Nick can't sleep in his own bed but instead chooses to sleep on the floor. The two older boys seem to be back to normal but are more cautious around Nick. Aunt Helen, who came to live with Steven and the boys after their mother died, is pretty much worried about everyone. Steven feels the pressure at work, having his boss looking over his shoulder and wondering if he's going to crack, makes for a stressful work environment. But Steven feels that he is more than up to the job of finding the murderer of the young girls.

Steven's oldest son, Brad, has been having some problems in school. His grades have been taking a nose dive. Finally his chemistry teacher, Dr. Jenna Marshall calls Steven to discuss his eldest son. Jenna's had a recent encounter with a parent that left her shaken so she's leery when it comes to meeting Steven. No worries, it turns out Jenna has no problem telling Steven what she thinks. I liked their first meeting. Jenna may have ended up on the floor but with an advantage over Steven. She has beautiful legs and wears garters. What is it about men and their love of garter belts? Steven can't get over Jenna's legs. Jenna can't get over the idiot who ran into her. This is one of the things I like about Rose's writing. She deals with a very dark topic and adds the lighter man/woman fumbling of instant attraction to keep that dark/light symmetry. Throughout the book there is a good balance of suspense and romance/family plot.

Steven continues with searching for the killer and Jenna starts getting to know Steven and his sons. Neither one wants anything serious. Steven is worried about bringing someone into the boys' lives only to have that person leave. Jenna is living with the ghost of her deceased fiance. What's interesting is that they both know the way they're living isn't healthy but they can't seem to change. Human nature at work folks! Rose does an admiral job giving Steven a little push here, Jenna a little push there until they realize they don't want to be without the other. Unfortunately lives must "hang in the balance" before that realization comes. :)

The mystery/suspense aspect worked well with a few little quibbles, mainly at the end. Some circumstances that seemed just too unrealistic. There are other circumstances that made me roll my eyes a bit but the overall mystery keep me entertained. I also liked the team members of Steven's group. Their work relationships sometimes carried over into friendships. The role each team member played felt authentic, no extra bodies, everyone had a job to do.

Three secondary characters I liked a whole bunch were Steven's sons. Brad, the eldest is the smart steady one, until he's not. I liked his storyline and the way his emotions were dealt with. Very realistic IMO. Matt, the middle son was easy going, quick with a laugh but wisdom lurked behind the jokes. Nicky is the youngest and most vulnerable. He's got that shyness that can pull you in so easy and make you want to bring a smile to his face. Jenna totally fell for him. I thought the relationships she made with these boys was well written and would have been missed had they been merely skimmed over.

Jenna has a family too, sort of. She has Adam, her deceased fiance's family. This was an odd little group Jenna had. She's very close to her fiance's father and calls him Dad. She has dinner regularly with the fiance's sister and her family. They are a close group and it's good for Jenna because she's not close to her mom and doesn't know her bio dad. But there were times when they suffocated Jenna with the reminders of Adam. This to me, was one of the main reason she had such a hard time moving on.

There is this theme that I seem to be running into lately, just happened with another recent read. It's the projecting a past love's hurtful actions onto the current love interest. I can understand when you get burned and you're cautious but when the past love and the present love are completely different people it can get to the point where it's just overkill. Steven did that to Jenna and it caused him to do some serious damage to their relationship. Really just wanted to smack him over the head a few times.

Ah, even with the few problems, they were minor and I managed to read this in about 24 hours. I was sick and camped out on the couch but still a very engaging story. I can certainly see why Karen Rose has so many fans.

Rating: A-

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

ARC Review: The Stolen Crown

The Stolen Crown
Historical Fiction/England/1464-1483
Sourcebooks Landmark/March 2010
ARC from Publisher

From the author's website ~

When six-year-old Kate Woodville’s beautiful sister Elizabeth makes a shocking—and secret—marriage to King Edward IV in 1464, Kate and her large family are whisked to the king’s court. Soon a bedazzled Kate becomes one of the greatest ladies in the land when she marries young Harry Stafford, Duke of Buckingham. But Kate’s fairy-tale existence as a duchess is shattered when the ongoing conflict between the houses of Lancaster and York engulfs the Woodville family.

As Edward IV fights to keep his crown, Harry’s relatives become hopelessly divided between Lancaster and York. Forced constantly to struggle with his own allegiances, Harry faces his defining moment when his dear friend Richard, Duke of Gloucester, determines to seize the throne for himself as Richard III. With lives in jeopardy and nothing less than a dynasty at stake, Harry’s loyalties—and his conscience—will be put to the ultimate test.

What a story Higginbotham has woven into this rich slice of English history. The characters may be real people long since dead but the emotions and distinct traits given to them bring them alive again and allow the reader to get to know these men and women. While this isn't my typical historical read, I found myself becoming immersed in the history of the Lancastrians and Yorks. The political intrigues of court life, marriages made for power and riches, wars fought for kingdoms; it all comes back to the people who lived those historical events.

There are very, very many characters needed to tell the story of the War of the Roses and the reigns of Edward IV, Richard III and Henry VII. Included at the beginning of the book is a long list of the historical figures mentioned in the novel. It is arranged by family and I found very helpful in keeping the various characters and their relationships organized for me. The two main characters of the story are Harry Stafford, second Duke of Buckingham and his wife, Katherine Woodville. They are also the characters who's POV the story is written in.

Beginning when they are both children and going through their adulthood, Harry and Katherine are the storytellers. They give their unique perspectives of the events occurring around them as well as those they are directly part of. From the secret marriage of a king, to life at court, to the battles for the control of the crown; all seen through their eyes. I liked the way the two viewpoints were written. At the beginning, with Harry giving a more "male-centered" perspective and Kate the "female-centered" perspective. Over the course of time we see how their priorities changed as they grow older. And how their outlook on not only their futures but England's future changes.

The Woodvilles play a crucial role in Edward IV reign. Edward marries Elizabeth (Bess) Woodville in secret, making Kate the sister to the Queen. The Woodvilles are not well liked by many of the nobles, with many thinking they are reaching far above their station. There is fear of the power they will wield being related to the king. This puts Kate and Harry in the midst of many of the conflicts.

I have to say I found the life of the royal court and all the intrigue fascinating. Even though I know the history of the time and the outcome of the characters I still found my attention on the story, worrying about what would happen and how it would all turn out. Harry and Kate gave the extraordinary events a human facet. I loved how they were shown with all their flaws and insecurities. How they loved each other but still made mistakes and hurt the ones they loved most. It made them that much more human, that much more interesting. More than just names found in a history book.

The Stolen Crown is not what I would consider a light historical read by any means. It has it's share of sadness and despair. With some very complex plots and character relations to follow. But there is also happiness to be found, the pure joy of the moment they are able to find among the intrigue of the court. I'd forgotten how appealing I find reading about historical figures, about actual events and the people who lived them. The Stolen Crown has reminded me how captivating those people and events can be.

Rating: A-

Monday, March 15, 2010

Reading, Sneezing and Blogging...

So, it's been really quiet in blogland. Wait, that's Nath's line. LOL

One of my goals for the year was to post more about me and RL. This isn't exactly what I had in mind but, for now, it's all I've got. :)

I’ve been quiet and way behind on blog hopping. Friday night I started getting that icky feeling in my throat. Then the sneezing started. But I was determined I wasn't going to get sick. Nope, not happening. The weather is too pretty to be stuck inside and it’s spring break here. Lots to do.

Saturday found me feeling worse and a giant box of tissues as my constant companion. I still didn’t feel terrible and thought it would just be a mild cold. I did read my TBR challenge book, Karen Rose’s Have You Seen Her? Started it Friday night and finished it Saturday night. I couldn’t believe it’s 499 pages! But considering I didn’t do much more than read and snooze Saturday, it’s not surprising I was able to finish it quickly. Plus it’s a good story.

Yesterday I woke up with a pile of tissue on the floor next to the bed. Yuck! Horrible night, very little real sleep and probably breathing through my mouth the whole night. Lovely. Turns out it could get worse with my eyes now teary and itching, my throat hurting and lets just throw some pms in there for fun. I had to wear my glasses all day, no way could I wear my contacts. I hate wearing glasses. I did start Pamela Clare’s newest, Naked Edge. It’s good but I only managed to read about 70 pages, the eyes watering and headache made reading difficult. I did get my mp3 player fixed, sort of, so I started listening to KMM’s Beyond the Highland Mist. I will say the voice of Phil Gigante made me feel sooo much better. Love his brogue!

Today is better. Definitely more energy and my throat isn’t as sore. So I hope to get around to the blogs today and find out what I’ve missed. And now that I’m on Pacific coast time because of DST, I feel like I’m an hour behind. We don’t spring forward where I live but since everyone else does our time zone changes. Weird.

Oh, I did see that dabwaha has started and picks can be made until Wednesday. So I need to do that since I plan to win it this year. :P Anyone not familiar with the craziness that is dabwaha can head over here and learn all about it. It's a lot of fun, surprisingly exciting and there are some great prizes.

I hope if anyone else out there has the sickies that you are feeling better!

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Review: A Matter of Class

A Matter of Class
Historical Romance/Regency London
Vanguard Press/December 2009
Library book

From the author's website ~

Reginald Mason is rich, refined, and by all accounts a gentleman. However, he is not a “gentleman” by birth, a fact that pains his father, Bernard, since Regency society values station above all else. And the Masons, despite their vast wealth, are still members of the merchant class.

An opportunity for Reginald’s social advancement suddenly arises through the possibility of marriage to Lady Annabelle Ashton. Since Annabelle is the only child of the Earl of Havercroft—who is both neighbor and arch enemy to Bernard—the elder Mason is positively joyous. After all, this would allow him to both one-up the earl and raise his son’s social standing, in one fell swoop.

The fact that Reginald and Lady Annabelle both loudly proclaim their disgust at the idea of marrying each other matters not at all.

But Annabelle has been disgraced by a scandal that has left her branded as damaged goods, just as her father desperately needs the money that would come from marrying her off to a wealthy man.

Regency-era damsel that she is, Annabelle is trapped. She’ll be shunned by society for life if she doesn’t marry someone even close to respectable. Plus, she’ll carry the crushing lifelong guilt of believing herself personally responsible for causing her family’s financial ruin if she doesn’t immediately marry someone wealthy enough to pay-off their looming debt.

By the same token, Reginald proclaims that he doesn’t want to get married now, especially to a hoyden who has managed to disgrace herself. Instead, he insists he’d rather live the wild, extravagant bachelor life to which he has recently become accustomed. However, Bernard gives Reginald an ultimatum: Marry Annabelle or be cut off from all family funds.

Reginald grudgingly consents, and an openly antagonistic engagement ensues. So does a tale riddled with secrets, deception, and the trials of love. In A Matter of Class very little is as it first appears.

Mary Balogh, oh how I love you! Yes, big fan of Ms. Balogh, have been for many years. A Matter of Class reminds me of just why I love Ms. Balogh's writing. I promise I'll try to make this an actual review and not let it veer off into a lovefest of all things Balogh. :)

I must say that is a long blurb for what is a 190 page novella. It really sums up the story quite well. But with Balogh there is so much more to the story than the particulars. There is the character development, which she excels at, bringing her characters to life along with their hopes and dreams. Then there is the plot which wraps the reader up in the romance and only lets go when the hero and heroine have arrived at their Happily Ever After. Ah yes, that is a Mary Balogh story.

We starts with Reginald Mason looking every bit like a gentleman of the ton. He enjoys superb clothing, a bit of gambling and all the finer things in life. He gets his money primarily from his father and would be hard pressed to afford his lifestyle without those funds. Reggie at first glance comes across as a typical wealthy young man of the ton. Enjoying life without a care in the world. His only real concern is keeping up in the latest styles and lately it's boots. He has bought ten pairs in the past ten weeks so it can be quite time consuming. But thankfully there is more to Reggie than a handsome exterior. He is sharp witted, a caring son and tenacious when he needs to be. I found Reggie to be utterly endearing. He is a bit of a scamp, teasing Annabelle while making her blush.

Annabelle Ashton is a lady of the aristocracy. It's important to her father that she marry well, certainly not below her station. But below her station she must go if the Ashtons are to be saved from financial ruin. Annabelle is left with no choice but to sacrifice herself for her family and marry Reggie. Poor dear girl. :) Annabelle is a likable heroine, adhering to the wishes of her parents but also following her own longings. It may seem like she merely tolerates Reggie but there is a definitely spark between these two.

One thing that I usually don't like in my books is the extended flashbacks. I don't mind a paragraph or two but when it goes on for pages, it usually doesn't work for me. Balogh does this in A Matter of Class, going back to when Annabelle and Reggie were children. We get to see how they grow up as neighbors but with this terrible animosity between their fathers. I found I enjoyed seeing the young Annabelle and Reggie. The way they acted when they were away from their parents and able to be themselves. It's like Balogh let the reader into this secret little world of Annabelle and Reggie that no one else knew about. I loved the way Balogh incorporated the flashbacks into the story arc. It added to Reggie and Annabelle's love story beautifully.

This sounds like a standard Regency romance. Either the hero or the heroine are seen as less than the other through the critical eyes of the ton. Some saving is in order and there are the family obstacles to be overcome. But the way Reggie and Annabelle deal with not only their families but fulfilling their most secret desires is anything but standard. A lovely story of romance and friendship. Completely enjoyed this little jewel from Ms. Balogh.

Rating: A

Monday, March 8, 2010

Review: What the Librarian Did

What the Librarian Did
Karina Bliss
Contemporary Romance
Harlequin Super/March 2010

From the back cover ~

Is Rachel Robinson the only one on campus who doesn't know who Devin Freedman is? No big deal except that the bad-boy rock star gets a kick out of Rachel's refusal to worship at his feet. And that seems to have provoked his undivided attention. Devin, the guy who gave new meaning to the phrase 'sex, drugs and rock 'n roll'. Devin, the guy who somehow becomes wedged between her and the past she's kept hidden for years.

It's up to this librarian to find out first-hand just how 'bad' he really is. Because her secret - and her growing feelings for a man who claims he's bent on redemption - depend on his turning out to be as good as he seems. Which is really, really good.

It looks like I'll be hunting down another author's back list. If What the Librarian Did is any indication, then Karina Bliss is an author who can give the reader a well developed plot and characters in the shorter format. I've come to treasure that ability since I started reading Harlequins with any frequency about a year ago.

The librarian and the rock star, a case of opposites attract. Our librarian, Rachel, is a single, 34 year old college librarian with a couple of ex-boyfriends but not much luck in the love department. Our rock star, Devin, comes to college by way of a recent stint in rehab. His life hasn't been his own for years but he's trying to change that. They meet in the library, of course. :) Rachel, to Devin's amazement, doesn't know who he is. This is a new experience for him and so is Rachel. She like no one he's ever known before.

Rachel takes her duties as the librarian very seriously. She enjoys helping students and is always willing to help the new students learn their way around the library. The new student that walks into the library the day before classes begins is not her usual first-time-away-from-home teen. He's projecting bad-boy vibes all over the place. With his stubble and purple boots, throw in a bit of arrogance and he's got Rachel's hackles up. But she is a professional so she dons her librarian cape and offers to help him.

I wasn't sure what to expect from Bliss since this is the first book of hers I've read. I thought she did well with building and making the attraction between Rachel and Devin believable. They both had ghosts from their pasts come back to haunt them which added tension to their developing relationship. It's possible to think of Rachel as having a couple of TSTL moments but the more I thought about it the more I had to concede that Rachel didn't have the perspective of the other characters like I had. So she didn't have the full story. I do understand why she chose to keep her secrets, she was doing what she thought would be the best option available at the time. And she was scared. Scared of rejection and scared of screwing things up.

Devin exuded this air of sensuality, had women chasing him but wanted to be as inconspicuous as possible. He wanted to blend in, or try to at least. He was so well known, especially with the college crowd, that he had a hard time remaining anonymous. The novelty of someone not only not knowing him but not bowing down to him, is not lost on Devin. He finds himself enjoying teasing the proper librarian. Bliss writes smart and funny dialogue with her characters trading spirited comments while getting to know each other. Devin has a wicked sense of humor and relishes matching wits with Rachel. For me, the best scenes were of Rachel and Devin teasing each other and relaxing with each other.

Devin is basically told that if he has another drink it will kill him. That's one heck of a wake up call! He leaves America and heads to New Zealand, the place of his birth. It's also where his mom still lives. I found his mom amusing with her straight forward way of talking and her obvious love for her sons. The relationship between Devin and his mom is one of love, affection and concern. Devin is worried about his mom, she's had some health scares, and she's worried about him. About his career and his future.

I did like the conflicts thrown at Rachel and Devin. How they deal with their past, mistakes and regrets, rounded out the romance of this unlikely pair. The ending might have been a little too neatly wrapped up and it might have bothered me if I hadn't already come to like this couple so much. But the overall story was a winner for me. Looking forward to reading more from Karina Bliss.

Rating: A-

Sunday, March 7, 2010

Twitterland and Barbie Parts...

I've been on twitter for a little while now. I don't post there often, I don't have much to say and I'm still not sure how it all works. Learning as I go. Anyways, one of the people I follow is Roger Ebert. I think most people in the US know who he is but if you don't, he's a film critic for the Chicago Sun-Times. He's also very outspoken about his political views(which I don't always agree with)but I do find him interesting. And he dated Oprah. :)

The links he post don't always have to do with movies. I'm not sure how he finds these links but he does find some interesting ones. Like the one he posted tonight about Barbie jewelry. It's not jewelry for Barbie but jewelry made out of Barbie (and Ken)parts. At first I thought it was really bizarre but the more I looked at it the more I liked it. Except for the ear earrings. Those I find disturbing. I don't remember seeing these in blogland last summer but the post is from last July. They could certainly be conversation starters or scare the heck out of little girls.

You can go here to read the post and here to designer Margaux Lange's site. She has even more pics of her work. And if you read the comments on the post, look at #7 from Barbie. LOL

Here are my three favorite pieces from the post. What do you think? Would you wear Barbie jewelry? Here's a list of places where you can buy it. Barbie is not cheap!~

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Review: The Iron King

The Iron King
Julie Kagawa
Fantasy/Young Adult
Iron Fey Series/Book 1
Harlequin Teen/February 2010
Library book

From the author's website ~


Something has always felt slightly off in Meghan’s life, ever since her father disappeared before her eyes when she was six. She has never quite fit in at school…or at home.

When a dark stranger begins watching her from afar, and her prankster best friend becomes strangely protective of her, Meghan senses that everything she’s known is about to change.

But she could never have guessed the truth—that she is the daughter of a mythical faery king and is a pawn in a deadly war. Now Meghan will learn just how far she’ll go to save someone she cares about, to stop a mysterious evil no faery creature dare face…and to find love with a young prince who might rather see her dead than let her touch his icy heart.

The YA reads have been very, very good lately. In The Iron King Julie Kagawa delivers a fascinating take on the Fae. I loved they way she portrayed the Seelie and Unseelie courts. The unique, modern twist she put on the Fae was inspiring. What attracted me to the story and kept me reading late into the night is the adventurous spirit of not only the plot but the characters. I had such fun reading this book!

The Iron King starts out the day before Meghan’s sixteenth birthday. She has a crush on a football player that she’s been tagged to tutor. She’s nervous and wants to make a good impression. Right away I liked Megan. She lives with her mom, step-dad and little brother on a pig farm. Being the daughter of pig farmers not only means Meghan is poor but she’s also on the receiving end of jokes and ridicule at school. She does have one good friend, Robbie Goodfell. Robbie is a bit mysterious and enjoys playing pranks but cares very much for Meghan.

Meghan's attempt to impress Scott Waldron, her crush, doesn't go as planned and she is left dejected. To make matters worse, she starts seeing "things" which she knows can't really be there. Her world begins to crumble when she discovers who she really is and begins her journey to the world of Nevernever or Faeryland.

The journey that Meghan takes is full of such amazing and wonderful creatures. Meghan makes some new friends, who might be enemies, and discovers how much strength she has inside her. The way Meghan deals with everything that comes at her is made believable in a world full of the unbelievable. But Meghan isn't the only one to show strength and loyalty. Her friends, both old and new, are there to help her and guide her on her journey. And even though these friends are more familiar with the Fae, there are times when they still need Meghan's help. It really is a group effort to fight the evil that has invaded Meghan's life.

The Iron King is told in Meghan's POV and while I usually don't mind, I did, at times, find myself wishing for Robbie and the prince's POV. But maybe we'll get those in the next book. The secondary characters do add so much to the story. Kagawa makes them and the setting come alive on the pages. One character Meghan meets, who left an impression on me is Grimalkin. He's a cat, sort of. ~

Directly in front of me, not five feet away, a pair of saucerlike eyes opened up out of nowhere, and I stared into the face of an enormous gray cat.

"There," it purred, regarding me with a lazy yellow gaze. Its fur was long and wispy, blending perfectly into the trees and the entire landscape. "See me now?"

"You're a cat," I blurted stupidly, and I swore it arched a brow at me.

"In the crudest sense of the word, I suppose you could call me that." The feline rose, arching its back, before sitting and curling its plumed tail around its legs. Now that my shock was fading, I realized the cat was a he, not an it. "Others have called me Cait Sith, Grimalkin and Devil's Cat, but since they all mean the same, I suppose you would be correct." pages 93-94

Grimalkin proves to be an asset to Meghan. He has a very dry sense of humor that I found adorable. Then there is the prince, a friend or potential enemy, Meghan isn't sure. What she does know is that he fascinates her. I found him a contrast to Meghan but they also had some very similar qualities. And her best friend Robbie is there, loyal to her and doing what he can to help.

There are many twists, turns, ups and downs in The Iron King. The ride was an exciting one filled with danger, surprises and friendships, along with a bit of romance. I'll be passing this one on to Abby, she loves fantasy so I'm sure she'll like this. The next book in the series is The Iron Daughter, due out this August. You can bet I'll be reading it to find out what happens next to Meghan and her friends. The way The Iron King ended left no doubt there will be more adventures ahead.

Rating: A

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Review: Shades of Midnight

Shades of Midnight
Paranormal Romance
Midnight Breed series/Book 7
Dell/January 2010
Library book

From the back cover ~


Something inhuman is stalking the frigid Alaskan wilds, leaving unspeakable carnage in its wake. For bush pilot Alexandra Maguire, the killings stir memories of a horrific event she witnessed as a child and evoke in her the inexplicable sense of otherness she has long felt but never fully understood . . . until a darkly seductive stranger with secrets of his own enters her world.

Sent from Boston on a mission to investigate the savage attacks and stop the slaughter, vampire warrior Kade has his own reasons for returning to the frigid, forbidding place of his birth. Haunted by a secret shame, Kade soon realizes the stunning truth of the threat he faces--a threat that will jeopardize the fragile bond he has formed with the courageous, determined young woman who arouses his deepest passions and most primal hungers. But in bringing Alex into his world of blood and darkness, Kade must confront both his own personal demons and the even greater evil that could destroy all he holds dear. . .

The previous book in the series, Ashes of Midnight, wasn't one of my favorites. It was a bit of a disappointment since I had liked how the hero was portrayed in previous books. I didn't like him very much in his own book and the heroine was just so so for me. So I started reading Shades of Midnight with some trepidation. I liked the premise of Kade going home and expected that to provide some conflict. I also liked the idea of a bush pilot for the heroine. One of the things I didn't like about the last book was that much of it took place away from Boston and the Breed Warriors headquarters. I like the guys interaction and camaraderie and was afraid I might miss that in this one. It turns out I did.

Alex Maguire finds them. The bodies are torn apart and she's terrified of what did it. She knows deep down it wasn't wolves like some of the locals think. Alex is a very no-nonsense woman who is accustomed to taking care of herself. She's not one to panic without reason. She doesn't exactly panic in the aftermath of finding the bodies but she is confused about what she saw. Then she spots Kade and she's drawn to him without knowing why.

Alex was just an okay heroine for me. She was portrayed as a strong female. When she was under pressure while flying it didn't show. She was in complete control and confident in her abilities. I liked that she didn't suddenly turn into a crying ball of fluff. The problem I had with her came when she finds out that Kade is a Breed aka vampire. She freaked, a little, but then she seem to get over it really fast. This was hard to believe considering her worst nightmare is a vampire attack.

Kade is a fairly solid hero. He's sent to Alaska on a mission, not to reconcile with his family. He left Alaska a year ago to join the Breed Warriors and their cause. He left with some very hard feelings between himself and his father. He also left to escape something he didn't want to deal with. So he ran. I liked Kade, I just didn't LOVE him. He was mysterious, sexy and loyal. I also found him a bit boring. I just didn't feel that fire between him and Alex that I felt with some of the other couples. For me, there was too much of that back and forth, "I want you but I can't have you, but I want you," crap. I didn't get that "click" that we readers talk about when we feel a connection to a character.

The mystery surrounding who is doing the killings isn't much of a mystery. Sure, there's a few possible suspects but anyone whose been reading the series has a pretty good idea of who/what is behind the attacks. There are some other activities going on in the Alaskan wilderness that Alex and Kade have to unravel and that helped to keep my interest before the Boston Breeds showed up.

My interest really perked up towards the end when we get the bait for the next book. We know from Adrian's website that Brock's book is next and we get a pretty good, okay - obvious, hint at who his heroine is. IMO, Brock's story has a whole bunch of potential. And, I like him. :)

Kade tells Brock that he's in love with Alex. ~

Brock gaped a minute longer, then let out a whoop of laughter. "Naah! Oh, hell no. Not you, too?"

Kade grinned, gave him a helpless shrug. "I love her, man. And she says she loves me, believe it or not."

"Un-fucking-believable," Brock said, still chuckling and shaking his head. "This is becoming a goddamn epidemic lately."

"Then you'd better watch your step, too."
"Shit," he replied, letting the word hiss out of him on a slow exhalation. "Now who am I going to hang with after patrols -- Harvard? Thanks a lot, man. I'll bet Hunter over there would be a barrel of laughs, too." page 269

I also like Brock's heroine. She comes with a whole trunk load of baggage. Brock comes across as a guy with a very laid back attitude and his heroine, not so much. Yep, looking forward to their story.

One thing that I noticed is the use of the words god, Jesus and to a lesser extent goddamn. As I read I wondered about the Breeds religious beliefs. Sadly, I couldn't remember what, if anything, had been mentioned previously. For some reason I thought they believed in various human religions. That their beliefs possibly came from their human Breedmate mothers. There was a chapel in the Darkhaven compound in Alaska and mention of death rites, which include taking the dead Breed out into the sun and staying with him for 8 minutes. I do wonder, when supernatural beings use the words god and Jesus if it's simply from exposure to human culture. On the show Extreme Home Makeover the people always say "Oh my God" when they see their new home. It doesn't necessarily make them a religious person. But it is something that's commonly said. Anyways, I'm just thinking out loud on this.

I would say that Shades of Midnight was a solid read. It certainly had some good points to it and the way it left off, I will be picking up the next book, Taken by Midnight, this September. But it also had some annoying and slow parts that left me wishing the Breeds from Boston would show up soon. There was some forward motion in the overall story arc with regards to Dagos and his evil schemes. So, not bad but not my favorite of the series.

Rating: B

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

February Reads...

Why Batman? IDK, never was a fan but maybe if he looked like this...

February was short and sometimes a very sweet month. I managed a total of 12 books and only one audio because, *sob*, my mp3 player broke. I'm suffering withdrawal while dealing with trying to get a replacement. So tempted to go to Sam's Club and get an IPod. Anyway... here's the list. ~

Slow Heat/Jill Shalvis/Contemporary ~ A
Hunting Ground/Patricia Briggs/Urban Fantasy ~ B+
Tell Me Lies/Jennifer Crusie/Contemporary (audio) ~ C
Crazy Beautiful/Lauren Baratz-Logsted/YA Contemporary ~ A
My Soul to Lose/Rachel Vincent/YA Fantasy ~ B+
My Soul to Take/Rachel Vincent/YA Fantasy ~ A
Kindred in Death/J. D. Robb/Futuristic ~ B+
Lord Ruin/Carolyn Jewel/Historical ~ B
Open Season/Linda Howard/Romantic Suspense ~ A-
The Iron King/Julie Kagawa/YA Fantasy ~ A (review to come)
The Texan's Wager/Jodi Thomas/Historical ~ A
Shades of Midnight/Lara Adrian/PNR ~ B (review to come)
What the Librarian Did/Karina Bliss/Contemporary ~ A (review to come)

Overall a very good month. Lots of wonderful reads. I attribute that to the great reviews from all of you book pimping bloggers. So I thank you and my ever growing TBR pile thanks you. :D

Oh, I almost forgot. Bookcases - Abby got a new one and I managed to be good for nearly 2 weeks, then I got a new one too. I swear I didn't plan it, it just happened. :)

March looks to be a great month for new releases. Take a peek at the Slide widget on the right side bar and see what I'm looking forward to for March.

Monday, March 1, 2010

ReRead Challenge Review: The Texan's Wager

The Texan's Wager
Jodi Thomas
Historical Western Romance/1883
Wife Lottery series/Book 1
Jove/November 2002

From the back cover ~

Thrown off a wagon train with two other women and trying to avoid jail for a murder they committed, Bailee Moore agrees to enter a "Wife Lottery" - - a ploy concocted by the Cedar Point sheriff to secure wives for men in the small Texas town. For the sensible Bailee, however, marrying Carter McKoy is like exchanging one life sentence for another - - especially since her new husband hasn't even uttered a single word in her presence. But still, she can't help thinking that something about this strong, silent farmer could be they key to leaving her troubled past behind . . . and making a worthy wager with her heart.

I started reading this for Keishon's TBR Challenge because the hero is a virgin. I didn't get too far before realizing that I've read this book, and the series, before. But it was good so I kept reading and finally set it aside to read a book for Keishon's Challenge. But I kept The Texan's Wager handy since I planned to read it for Nath's challenge.

Alone in a hostile territory. Three women, one a young teenager, are cast off a wagon train and basically left to fend for themselves. Harsh but believable? Yes. Back then it was survival of the fittest and the wagon train was looking out for what was best for the train. Plus, the women had made some enemies and the reality was that they were not wanted on the train.

They soon run into trouble in the form of Big Zeb Whitaker. Soon Bailee(25), Lacy(15) and Sarah(20), find themselves in jail facing fines with no way to pay. Their jailer plans to find them husbands and have their new husbands pay the fines. I have to confess, one of my favorite romance tropes is the mail-order bride. While this isn't it, it's close. The lottery is held and the women are taken away by their prospective husbands or in Lacy's case, her father-in-law. Bailee is won by Carter McKoy, a rancher that keeps to himself and rarely talks.

Carter is so very different from the typical western hero. He is shy, quiet, a real loner without that bad ass attitude they usually have. He keeps to himself and has very little interaction with the townsfolk (I love that word, townsfolk). He is certainly a man of few words which Bailee discovers real quick.

When Carter finally reached the front, the sheriff looked at him and shook his head...

"Sure you want a wife, Carter McKoy?" Sheriff Riley laughed quietly. "You might have to talk to the woman if you took her home."

Wheeler, the sheriff's deputy, giggled and repeated Riley's question.

Carter didn't answer. He never answered. He'd learned a long time ago most people only talked to themselves anyway. He moved to the side, to wait with the other idiots who thought finding a wife would be as easy as paying a fine.
page 34

I do think Carter is one of my favorite heroes. He definitely holds a special place for me in the Hero Hall. Which is strange since I'm all about the alpha and Carter is a beta, but there was just something about him that I couldn't resist. His internal monologues are amusing, showing his insecurities and his tenacity. Something that has helped him survive alone for many years.

Bailee was a survivor. She's the oldest and the natural leader of the group. Lacy and Sarah looked to Bailee when the three were left alone. Bailee has been through some hard times and looks to the husband lottery as a chance, no matter how small, to make her life better. I liked Bailee. I liked and respected her for not pushing Carter into talking and giving them time to get to know each other. She was real patience with him and very understanding.

Carter and Bailee together made for an engaging couple. The way they worked together and simple let the other be, not forcing the relationship but letting it grow. They initially agreed to waiting one month before becoming intimate. During that time things change and a little girl needs their help. Bailee gets to see a side of Carter she normally wouldn't have seen had they stayed on the ranch. It was eye opening for her and made her realize what a prize she got when Carter won her in the lottery. Carter learns to open up to Bailee and a few select people. He also has a secret that he needs to share with Bailee but doesn't know how. Carter's fears have ruled his life but with Bailee he gets to learn to release some of those fears and let her in his life. Bailee and Carter's love story was a charming mix of humor, love and discovery. And even though Carter was a virgin he was still a man. ~

Any word she'd been about to say vanished from her mind as he reached up and pulled free the bow she'd just tied in place.

The thin material fell dangerously low across her breast, barely covering the tip of each.

She didn't move.
He tugged at the ribbons, pulling the material lower until it slipped beneath her mounds, once more leaving her bare.

The fire in his stare made her breath come rapidly as though she'd been running for miles.

He watched every rise and fall.

She waited once more for him to touch her, but he only stared. He watched her so closely she could almost feel him against her. He was making love to her with only a look. page 229

A beautifully written western with unique characters and an equally unique love story. I would recommend for any western fans.

Rating: A

I came across the cover for Ms. Thomas' next release. It's called Welcome to Harmony and it due for release June 1.

Here's the blurb on Amazon ~

Sixteen-year-old runaway Reagan has always wanted a place to belong. She's never had a real home of her own, but perhaps she could borrow someone else's. Under an assumed name and identity, she moves to Harmony, Texas, but keeps her distance from the welcoming townsfolk. Until prairie fires threaten Harmony-and Reagan learns the true meaning of family, friends, and home.

There's also a post on the PenguinBlog where Ms. Thomas talks about writing the new series that starts with Welcome to Harmony. You can find that here.